Essays in health economics
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This dissertation consists of three chapters on health economics, two of which focus on contraception and the third on vaccination. Chapter one examines the impact of state-level contraception insurance coverage mandates on women's fertility outcomes. It utilizes variation in mandated insurance coverage for contraception across states and over time to determine the causal impact of insurance coverage of contraception on fertility outcomes, specifically abortion rates and birth rates. State-level results indicate that a mandate decreases abortion rates by 6% in the year of introduction and decreases birth rates by 3% two years following introduction, with the magnitude of both effects remaining steady over the long run. Chapter two utilizes longitudinal data on varicella (chicken pox) immunizations in order to estimate the causal effects of state-level school-entry and daycare-entry immunization mandates within the United States. We find significant causal effects of mandates upon vaccination rates among preschool children aged 19-35 months; these effects appear in the year of mandate adoption, peak two years after adoption, and show a minimal difference from the aggregate trend about six years after adoption. For a mandate enacted in 2000, the model and estimates imply that roughly 20% of the short-run increase in state-level immunization rates was caused by the mandate introduction. We find no evidence of differential effects for different socioeconomic groups. Combined with the previous cost-benefit analyses of the varicella vaccine, the estimates suggest that state-level mandates have been effective from an economic standpoint. Chapter three utilizes variations in access to emergency contraception (EC) across states to determine the impact of over the counter access on abortion rates, birth rates, and risky sexual behavior. Using state-level data, a flexible time specification finds that giving individuals over the counter access to EC reduces births and increases risky behavior, which is captured by STD rates. These effects are larger for adults compared with teenagers, however, there are not significant differential effects by race. Finally, the effects are increasing over time following the legislation.